Dr Ian Fairlie: Will Labour turn against nuclear power? As Chancellor, Ed Balls would have cancelled Hinkley C due to its massive cost, writes Ian Fairlie. But he never got the chance, and now the party remains muted even though the Government’s nuclear enthusiasm is completely out of kilter with reality. To end nuclear’s grip on Labour there’s only one choice of leader: Jeremy Corbyn. The Hinkley Point C (HPC) project is paralysed with at least five severe problems, any one of which would prove very difficult to overcome. Add them together and the project appears doomed. It remains to be seen whether the Government or the Labour Opposition hierarchy will take notice of these listed realities. The Labour Party needs to take a fresh look at the dire situation with Hinkley Point C, and more widely at its ill-conceived and out-of-date love affair with nuclear power. The Leadership election offers just such an opportunity.
Ecologist 30th June 2015 read more »
The Government and EDF are in talks over who will pick up the costs if Austria wins its appeal against the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant once construction has begun. Plans for the £16bn Hinkley Point plant received state aid clearance from the European Commission last year but Austria has vowed to challenge this, alleging that subsidies for the project constitute illegal state aid. Although the Government and EDF both insist the appeal, expected to be lodged this week, has no merit, it is understood they are yet to agree on what would happen in the unlikely event Austria does win. Speaking on the fringes of the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference, Ms Leadsom confirmed that the Government was “looking very closely” at the issue of how the project could go ahead with a state aid challenge ongoing. Austria’s state aid appeal is likely to hang over the project for at least a year and potentially as long as six years – during which time billions of pounds would be spent on construction. The Government and EDF are believed to be targeting a final investment decision by October. A series of issues remain outstanding including EDF’s takeover of reactor-maker Areva’s nuclear business, deals with Chinese investors, and finalising contracts with the Government.
Telegraph 30th June 2015 read more »
AS PLANS for a new Chinese-funded nuclear power plant at Bradwell rumble on, the chairman of a protest group has written to the leaders of East Asian corporations eyeing up a partnership with the site owners.
Essex Chronicle 30th June 2015 read more »
We went along to the Moorside smoke and mirrors CONsultation today. NuGen’s Stephen Bray told us that the consultation is “not about whether the new build will go ahead” as that has already been decided by the government and the people of Cumbria who “invited” nuclear developers. We replied that there was no “invitation” to nuclear developers only previous consultations one of which was described in 2007 in the High Court as: “misleading, seriously flawed, manifestly inadequate and procedurally unfair”, and Government plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations were “unlawful.”
Radiation Free Lakeland 30th June 2015 read more »
Tom Samson has taken over as CEO of NuGen, the consortium working to build new reactors at Moorside in Cumbria. His return to Britain after new build work in the United Arab Emirates is an example of the two-way process of global nuclear learning. Speaking today at the New Nuclear Build 2015 conference organised in London by the Nuclear Industry Association, Samson said land agreements had been finalised and the company was entering a three-year phase of site characterisation and preparation to decide on ‘tier one’ engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts.
World Nuclear News 30th June 2015 read more »
A proposal to reuse the UK’s civil plutonium and recovered uranium stockpiles in thermal reactors has taken a step forward following the signing of an agreement with the Canadian government to enhance cooperation in civil nuclear energy. Ontario-based Candu Energy is proposing to turn plutonium from legacy nuclear programmes into mixed oxide (MOX) pellets at a dedicated fabrication facility at Sellafield in Cumbria. The MOX fuel could then be used in four thermal reactors to produce up to 3GWe of power for sale in the electricity market. Candu’s Canmox proposal has emerged as a front-runner among options under consideration by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), as it could deal with the entire stockpile, regardless of the grade or contamination. The distinguishing feature of the Candu technology is the use of heavy water as a moderator that provides enhanced neutron efficiency, allowing for fuel flexibility. As a result, there are four distinct applications available or under development: natural uranium, recovered uranium, thorium and mixed-oxide fuel. It’s the MOX option that offers potential for the UK’s plutonium problem.
Professional Engineer 30th June 2015 read more »
The Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for cooperation on civil nuclear energy projects.
Energy Business Review 30th June 2015 read more »
Minister of State Andrea Leadsom’s speech at the Nuclear Industry Association conference. Nuclear energy plays a critical role in the Government’s security of supply and decarbonisation goals. The UK’s nine existing nuclear power plants generate around 20% of our electricity demand. But all bar one of these power stations are expected to shut by 2030. We are continuing to work together with EDF to finalise the documentation for the Hinkley Point C project. The power station is expected to start generating electricity from 2023. In total, industry has set out plans for five new nuclear projects in the UK, for a total of up to 16 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity, providing around 35% of electricity generation. That level of new build could, by 2030, lead to an estimated 40 million tonnes of CO2 emissions savings, gross private investment of £89 billion (2014 prices), and around 35,000 jobs supported at the peak of construction. Small Modular Reactors are an option we are investigating further. These have the potential to drive down the cost of nuclear energy and make financing easier through shorter construction times and lower initial capital investment requirements, in addition to high-value commercial opportunities. However, since SMRs are in the early stages of development, there are no commercially operational examples that can be used to validate this potential. So Government has initiated work to build a greater factual base on SMRs, following the feasibility study of last year. The UK, government is firmly committed to delivering geological disposal as the safest and most secure means of managing our higher-activity waste in the long term. We need a permanent solution following more than 60 years of producing radioactive waste from various sources including electricity generation from nuclear power.
DECC 30th June 2015 read more »
Significant progress on hazard reduction, particularly at Sellafield, was among the highlights of the last financial year outlined in our Annual Report and Accounts 2014 to 2015.
NDA 30th June 2015 read more »
Economics of Nuclear Power with Arnie Gundersen.
Fairwinds 25th June 2015 read more »
For decade researchers have been trying to quantify the risks of very low doses of ionizing radiation. the kind that might be received from a medical scan, or from living within a few tens of kilometres of the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan. So small are the effects on health — if they exist at all — that they seem barely possible to detect. A landmark international study has now provided the strongest support yet for the idea that long-term exposure to low-dose radiation increases the risk of leukaemia, although the rise is only minuscule. The finding will not change existing guidelines on exposure limits for workers in the nuclear and medical industries, because those policies already assume that each additional exposure to low-dose radiation brings with it a slight increase in risk of cancer. But it scuppers the popular idea that there might be a threshold dose below which radiation is harmless — and provides scientists with some hard numbers to quantify the risks of everyday exposures.
Nature 30th June 2015 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today its analysis of UK / European nuclear emergency planning four and a half years after the Fukushima disaster. The Policy Briefing is the second of a trio of nuclear policy briefings – the others being on nuclear safety and nuclear security – which challenge the new UK Government and nuclear regulatory agencies to consider fundamental changes as a result of specific issues the Fukushima disaster has raised. NFLA Policy Briefing 133 on nuclear emergency planning considers the key learning points that have arisen from the Fukushima disaster. It profiles civil society reports by Fukushima groups and by Nuclear Transparency Watch which outline in great detail the huge logistical problems created by such a level of disaster and an inconsistency of approach in Europe to them. The briefing also considers the debate about probabalistic risk assessment, which was found wanting in Japan
NFLA 30th June 2015 read more »
It’s fitting on a sunny summer’s day to have some good news on the solar energy front. The amount of electricity generated from the sun’s rays in the UK is growing so quickly that the increase in supply will help pull down energy prices over the next five years. That’s one of the conclusions of a report by Moody’s, which predicted that wholesale electricity prices per MWh in the UK would fall from £45.90 today to somewhere between £42 and £46 by 2020. More solar power and greater energy efficiency will reduce the burden placed by British demand on traditional power stations by nearly 2 per cent – the energy produced by one average coal-producing unit – each year. Not only that, but these are just the averages, spread out across the hours of the day. The impact of solar will be even more marked during the peak sunny hours of the day in summer. Moody’s expects that by 2020 solar power in the UK will contribute more than 13 per cent of demand. Enough solar plants to generate 1.3 gigawatts of power have been set up in the first quarter of this year alone. But don’t get too carried away at the thought of Britain becoming the new Sweden. The main reason prices are coming down here is that we’ll be importing massively more cheap energy from new undersea interconnectors – huge electricity cables being built under the Channel to Europe.
Independent 1st July 2015 read more »
An initiative to help broaden the UK nuclear supply chain has been launched. The Nuclear Supply Chain Partnership (NSCP) aims to help smaller companies prepare to bid for manufacturing work on new projects. It was launched at the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) Conference in London yesterday and hopes to bring together manufacturing companies who have a “realistic offering” to nuclear developers, reactor vendors and top tiers of the supply chain.
Energy Live News 1st July 2015 read more »
ECS is continuing to go from strength to strength having recently won five steel fabrication contacts for customers within the nuclear power industry. Following on from a move to new, larger premises and successful certification under BS EN 1090 for CE marking, the company has now completed the lengthy pre-qualification process to allow production to start on 49 duct cradles for a nuclear plant in the UK.
Process and Control Today 30th June 2015 read more »
FEARS are growing that depraved Islamic State (ISIS) militants could obtain a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.
Express 30th June 2015 read more »
Executive Summary of WISE-Paris’ report on the French nuclear industry available in English.
Greenpeace 30th June 2015 read more »
In the ongoing battle to clean up Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Toshiba is deploying a novel robot that’s a bit like a scorpion. Developed with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), the cylindrical machine is designed to enter the primary containment vessel (PCV) of the Unit 2 reactor at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. The catastrophe sparked a nuclear emergency and long-term evacuations. Toshiba wants to deploy the device to help determine the condition and location of melted-down fuel in the reactor, which is too dangerous for workers to enter. The effort is part of decommissioning work at the plant that’s expected to take decades.
Computer World 30th June 2015 read more »
President Obama has warned that he would walk away from a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme if Tehran did not stick to an outline agreed in April. Obama spoke minutes after foreign ministers meeting in Vienna gave themselves an extra week to conclude negotiations on what is intended to be a comprehensive and detailed agreement, after failing to clinch a deal by an end-of-June deadline.
Guardian 30th June 2015 read more »
America and Iran have given themselves another week to achieve a final agreement over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions after “very tough” negotiations in Vienna failed to make sufficient progress.
Telegraph 30th June 2015 read more »
The US Department of Energy has provided its final $1.8 billion (£1.1bn) loan for a nuclear project plant in Georgia. It had previously issued $6.5 billion (£4bn) for the Vogtle project which is said the first new nuclear power plant to be licensed in more than three decades.The loan will help build two new reactors with a capacity of 1,100MW – enough electricity to power nearly 1.5 million homes.
Energy Live 30th June 2015 read more »
Since returning to power with an outright majority, the UK’s new Conservative government is now full steam ahead to replace the Vanguard-class submarines with a new fleet of four Successor submarines, each armed with Trident II D-5 fleet ballistic missiles. Each submarine will have 12 launch tubes of which 8 will be operational and capable of reaching targets and delivering within a range of 11,300 km, perhaps further and even more accurate with the next generation of nuclear-tipped Trident ballistic missiles due to be in service in the early 2030s.
Huffington Post 30th June 2015 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
New data produced by a construction industry intelligence specialist has revealed that the potential adverse impact of the Govt decision to axe £800 million of subsidies to onshore wind farm projects is worse than expected. Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, recently announced that new onshore wind farms will be excluded from an existing funding scheme from 1 April 2016, which is a year earlier than expected. All projects that already had planning permission and other similar conditions could still get built under a proposed “grace period”. Potential onshore wind farms have suffered a surprise setback with the Government announcing an early end to their subsidies, putting projects worth over £6.4 billion in jeopardy. More than two-thirds (68%) of the pipeline applications for onshore wind farms in the UK relate to locations in Scotland. But according to the latest data from Barbour ABI, a chosen provider of construction data for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Government, there are 338 proposed wind farms that are yet to receive planning permission, putting them at risk of incompletion. This is much higher than the 250 projects at risk of failure which Rudd specified in her statement.
Scottish Energy News 30th June 2015 read more »
New figures released this month show the amount of money flowing into Scotland’s communities from onshore wind farm developments has risen by almost 75 per cent in two years. More than £8.8 million is now provided every 12 months from wind farms as far apart as Orkney and Dumfriesshire, the Isle of Lewis and the Scottish Borders. That money – which would otherwise never have been available – is being spent in a huge number of remarkably diverse ways. Recent grants have been used to build a new community hall in Daviot, Aberdeenshire, send a dance school from West Lothian to the European Street Dance Championships in Germany and to buy a thermal imaging camera so residents in Sutherland can see where their homes need extra insulation. The details come from the constantly-updated Local Energy Scotland Community Renewables Register, which is available online. Payments are made voluntarily by developers from projects of all scales, from just 500kW to the largest entry at 539MW, ScottishPower Renewables’ Whitelee wind farm near Glasgow.
Scotsman 1st July 2015 read more »
Climate Change Committee
The latest update from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is another reminder of the scale of the task ahead if the UK is to achieve its legally-binding carbon reduction commitments. The Climate Change Act mandates the UK reduces emissions 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050, with interim targets set out by the carbon budgets of 35 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2027. While progress has been made in some areas – notably a sharp increase in renewable electricity capacity, improved vehicle fuel efficiency, and increased insulation rates for buildings – the CCC today warns there remains a gap of around 15 per cent between projected emission and the 2027 target. The decisions made over this Parliament will have a huge impact on the UK’s progress to 2030 and beyond. The CCC argues that a whole host of low carbon support schemes end at the end of the decade, with little visibility for investors beyond 2020. The Levy Control Framework, which dictates how much can be spent supporting low carbon electricity, finishes in 2021, while the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) energy efficiency scheme close even sooner. How, the CCC asks, can investors and project developers plan ahead to deliver the low carbon infrastructure the UK needs if they have no idea what kind of returns they will be seeing? It recommends extending these programmes into the coming decade to match project timelines, and in the case of the LCF, increasing funding to a peak of around £9bn by 2025 to bring forward more expensive technologies such as offshore wind and carbon capture and storage. As well as bringing forward green energy technologies cost-effectively, the CCC says extending funding will also ensure the UK does not lose out on investment to other countries. Extending the LCF is seen as one of the most urgent challenges facing the government and must be done in the next year if the government is to keep to its promise of decarbonising the economy in the most cost-effective way possible. Lord Deben said that if the government chooses to go down this path [without onshore wind], it must be prepared to explain why it is taking a more expensive route towards decarbonisation.Taking the lead from the LCF, the government should also ensure the Renewable Heat Incentive, which offers payments to homeowners and business installing green heat technology, to at least 2020 unless a suitable replacement can be found. The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme should also be extended beyond 2017. The CCC is calling for an action plan that delivers low carbon heat and energy efficiency improvements so homes can be heated for less, alongside implementing the zero carbon homes targets that were progressively weakened in the previous parliament.
Business Green 30th June 2015 read more »
Once again the warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the green economy. In its diplomatic and courteous fashion, today’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) progress report tells the government what anyone with experience of the green economy has been telling them for about 18 months now: good progress has been made but it is now being jeopardised because too many crucial decisions that should have been made in the last parliament got kicked down the road. On a number of crucial fronts the low carbon sector is close to running on empty. Decisions cannot be deferred any longer if the UK is to meet its legally binding emissions targets and maximise the economic benefits from the green industrial base it has started to build.
Business Green 30th June 2015 read more »
The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has published its first report under the new Parliament on the UK’s progress towards meeting emissions reduction targets. The CCC found that the UK has made “good progress”, but warns that decisions made in the next five years will have an enormous impact on whether the UK successfully adapts to and limits global warming. As a result it calls for policy clarity on issues such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Levy Control Framework, to encourage long-term investments in green infrastructure. The Committee also reiterates its support for a wide spectrum of low carbon technology including renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear energy.
Edie 30th June 2015 read more »
Edie has rounded up the key responses from industry professionals, detailing their thoughts on the report’s advice, and how the Government should best implement it. The Committee has issued a clear warning – progress on improving our buildings is currently falling short. The Government must follow its advice and agree an action plan for energy efficiency which results in homes that are cheaper to heat and that are shielded from the worst effects of climate change. Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, said: “Uncertainty about future funding could see projects being delayed and have a particularly damaging impact on supply chains and continued cost reductions. “The offshore wind sector provides a good example of the benefits produced by a clear policy framework. The cost of energy from UK offshore wind farms has fallen by almost 11% in the past four years, with the UK the world leader in this sector. However, offshore projects can take up to ten years to build, so the industry is already looking to the mid-2020s for some clarity about expected levels of deployment.”
Edie 30th June 2015 read more »